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In iMovie '11 Essential Training, author Garrick Chow illustrates the process of creating high-quality video using iMovie '11. The course covers the entire post-production process, from importing audio, video, and still images to adding effects, creating trailers, and sharing your finished projects on social networks. Also included are tutorials on adjusting audio levels, automatically identifying clips that include faces, and using green screen effects. Exercise files accompany the course.
Okay, at this point, we've covered pretty much all the essential training aspects of working with video in iMovie. In this chapter, we're going to focus on working with audio in your projects. We will look at how to work with the existing audio in your clips, as well as how to add and manipulate additional audio files. I am going to go back to my Project Library and reopen the Surfing Ventura project we created previously. So, we'll start by working with the audio of the clips we've already added to this project. Now in iMovie, you can adjust the audio of individual clips or for your entire project. To adjust the audio of any clip, simply click into Action menu and select Audio Adjustments.
That opens up the Audio Inspector. Let's see if I can reduce the volume. (birds chirping) Conveniently, it loops for me, so I don't have to keep pressing Play to adjust the audio, and I can press the Spacebar to stop it. Now, we have some other options in here. We will talk about ducking in the movie on voiceovers. We also have Fade In and Fade Out sliders that control how quickly the audio of the clip comes in and out. iMovie does a pretty good job of handling fade-ins and fade-outs automatically, but if you want to extend or reduce the length of a fade, just grab one of the sliders-- you can see Manual gets checked--and then you can just drag the slider to the left or to the right.
To the left shortens the fade, and to the right lengthens it. So, for example, you might want a longer audio fade-out to go along with a longer video fade-out at the end of your movie, in which case you would just drag this to the right. Notice that moves the Fade In slider in conjunction. That's because this is such a short clip. So I can't have a fade-in that overlaps a fade-out. You will also find this Enhance section that allows you to reduce background noise. This can be used if you have footage of someone speaking but with a lot of ambient noise in the background. Now we don't have anyone speaking in any of these clips, but as an example, in this clip where our surfer is zipping up his suit, let's give that a listen.
(truck engine) (birds chirping) So you can hear that truck engine in the background, along with some birds and a lot of background noise. If I turn on Reduce background noise and then drag the slider to the right, you will notice that the truck sound and bird noises are easier to hear because a lot of the sounds of the waves and the wind have been removed. Let's give it a listen. (truck engine) (birds chirping) If I drag it all the way to right, you can really hear the extreme settings.
(truck engine) (birds chirping) Now your results might vary with that, but if you do have a lot of background noise and you are having trouble hearing your subject's audio, you might try turning on the Reduce background noise slider. Also found in here is the graphic equalizer. This has several built in presets to boost different ranges of audio depending on what you're trying to do. We can have Voice Enhancement, Music Enhancement, Loudness to bring the overall volume of all the different levels up, and so on and so on.
Basically, just select the one you want to see if it improves the sound of your clip. You can also manually adjust the EQ if you prefer, by dragging any of these sliders up and down. Without getting into too much detail here, generally the frequencies on the left side are the lower or the bass-response frequencies. As we move to the right, we have the midrange and the higher-range frequencies over here. So this is just something you can play around with to see if you can improve the sound of your clip. You will also find a Normalize Clip Volume button here. If you find that the selected clip in your project has a lot of variance in terms of some audio levels being really quite and others being fairly loud, you can normalize them, which means to make them all the same level.
All you need to do is select the clip and then click the Normalize button to apply the effect. (truck engine) (birds chirping) So that pretty much puts everything at around the same volume level within the clip. If you don't like it or if you want to change your mind, just click Remove Normalization and set the clip back to its original state. Now in previous versions of iMovie, if you wanted all the clips in your project to have the same relative volume, you had to select and normalize all the clips, just by sort of selecting all and then opening your Audio Settings, and normalizing.
That was sort of a shotgun way of doing it because it doesn't really give you precise control over specific areas. That can be a problem because you're always going to have clips where parts of the audio are too quiet or too soft. But now in iMovie 11 you can have much more control over your audio because it let's you adjust your levels visually. Just click the Audio Waveform button at the bottom of the Project pane to see visual representations of the audio for each clip. I can now easily see which levels are louder than others. For example, the waveform for the clip of the truck sounds is really tall, meaning it's a loud clip.
I can drag this horizontal bar down to reduce the overall volume. I am going to just try to make it about level with the clip that's next to it here, and we can hear how that sounds. (truck engine) (birds chirping) So now our ears aren't suddenly being blasted off when we switch to that other clip. This is a nice visual way to make sure your levels match throughout your project. Now you can even select portions of a clip's audio if you only need to raise or lower a section instead of the audio for the entire clip. For example, if I just highlight the section of the clip here and drag up, notice only that section goes up.
Also notice if I drag too far up, the peaks of my waveforms turned yellow, and eventually they are turned sort of orange at the top there. This is warning me that that section is probably too loud and may distort, so I might want to drag that back down. Now if you accidentally adjust the selection, just press Delete on your keyboard to remove that adjustment. Also be aware that when you're selecting in here you have to select in the Audio Waveform portion. If I select the actual clip itself, that's not going to do anything. You can see I am still adjusting the entire waveform here. Also notice that at the beginning and end of the waveforms, we have these handles.
You can drag these into adjust the fade- in and fade-out of the audio, which, again, is a nice visual way of adjusting your audio. Notice if I drag this all the away to the right, or pretty far to the right, we'll have a nice fade-in of the audio. (video playing) That eventually gets louder. Being able to individually adjust the audio of clips is a really useful feature, especially if you're adding background music to your project, which we will see how to do later in this chapter, because you don't want your background music and the audio from your footage to compete with each other. All right, so that's an overview of the audio adjustments you can make iMovie 11.
Next, we'll learn how to add additional audio to our movie project.
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